SEO & Link Profiles - Monitoring Our Backlinks
Checking backlinks is absolutely key..
We all spend so much time discussing how to get more traffic to our websites. Build great content. Build quality links. Build a social presence. In fact, to really deliver where it counts, there are many different SEO components that need to be invested in. Which components we spend time on is an important decision to make as some elements are more rewarding than others, when we get it right.
With so much focus on the doing, we perhaps don't spend as much time ensuring that we protect our investments, in the same way a stockbroker wouldn't just invest in a company and then ignore it. So how does the same apply to SEO and the success of our websites? For most of us, we will know all too well that SEO is an ongoing process. It means we need to understand how it works and then apply the principles on an ongoing basis, evolving along with those that dictate the rules. Sadly, whilst the rewards can be great, it takes an ongoing commitment of your time.
Whilst optimization of your website is going to be a key goal, it's important to optimize in other areas. Why? As we are all up against the same enemy.. time. That leads me nicely to the topic i wanted to cover in this hub. Other things we can do to optimize our websites link profile.
Our link profile defines the characteristics that make up how we acquire links to our website. Build links from spammy, low quality sites and we will have a profile to match (which won't be great). Similarly, if we spend the time, getting the right links, keeping those links (as age of link is important) and getting high quality links from a wide range of high quality websites - our profile will be higher quality. These characteristics go even further than you might expect. Where you get links, how often, where they appear on the page, anchor text rotation, age of link and many more. Google and the other search engines understand what the profile of a successful and popular website looks like. What's more, they are far better equipped at recognizing the websites that don't have one, as well as the people trying to fool them.
We know SEO is important. We also know that building links is extremely important, as is where we get the links from and the length of time our links are in place. Where many of us miss out is the avoidance of fluctuations in our link profile.
To Monitor or not to monitor..
The SEO gods hark on about the need for great content. Why? Simple - great content attracts great links - the exact kind we should be looking for. Great content will also make our jobs far easier in getting others to link to our content. Sometimes this might be through some form of collaboration or agreement between website owners. We should be checking these links to make sure our partners are keeping up their end of the agreement. It becomes even more important to monitor links which have been acquired by way of financial incentive. Is this really important?
In short, yes, for a number of reasons. Firstly, not everyone is honest. Each link you get back to your website is providing benefit... the virtual vote. It's the same benefit that helps you perform in the SERPS. Secondly, if there's a collaboration of some sort - you want to know right away that there's an issue. It might be you've agreed a triangular link deal or paid for a link (not strictly allowed, but done right and who would be the wiser). When these links are removed, it negatively impacts you SEO efforts. How? By causing fluctuations in your link profile. In the same way that a link gained is seen as a vote, a link lost is seen as a red flag. Too many red flags and our results are impacted.
Remember we're not necessarily talking about every natural link. Whilst it's good to know your overall profile, some little nuggets of gold that you acquire, you will want to protect (in the same way you will take extra precautions towards the more valuable things in your life).
I have a lot of links!
Of course manually checking more than a dozen links every day isn't the best use of your time. Time you could spend writing more great content or building more SEO busting links. There are however a number of tools on the market which are both affordable and get the job done, with minimal effort on your part.
What other reasons are there to closely monitor my valuable links?
Other benefits of checking your built links
It is also important to check your links to ensure:
- The page that has your link remains indexed by Google.
- NOFOLLOW tags are not added to your link - especially important if you've traded or paid for a link, as this will stop the passing of link juice.
- Nothing is changed on your link without your knowledge
- The number of outbound links on the page that houses your link doesn't get out of control.
- The position of your link on the page doesn't significantly devalue your link
- The content on the page is still relevant to yours and hasn't been changed
- There isn't a sudden loss of page rank on the site hosting your link. This could be an indication of a penalty being applied by the search engines.
How often should i be checking?
The frequency of how often you check will be proportionate to the type of links you have. Deals and money spend will always incentivise more frequent checks. If i had an arrangement in place, or had paid money for some juice, i would be conducting daily checks, yes.
Of course, it just isn't possible to check a high volume of links. Fortunately there are some tools to help.
Recommended Link Monitoring Tools that are FREE
The following list can all be used to check your links.
This one's a little crude but it is absolutely free and for the purpose of obtaining a list of all your back links, this certainly does the job. As you can see there is a select all option to create a single file with all your placements. The bad news is that you'll still need to manually check things once you have the data.
Screenshot of analyzebacklinks.com
This previously wasn't free however now you can download it for no cost. A nice free tool which gives you all the backlinks to your site. In terms of the specifics on the page and with your link, the onus will be on you to check.
Screenshot of Scrapebox.com Link Checker
Another good free tool and is pretty straight forward in it's functionality. Enter your domain, hit submit and there you go. The data isn't laid out in the most appealing fashion, but for a free tool, it is fast and reliable and will give you the links to your site. As with the other free tools - it's on you to do the checking once you have the data.
A good tool to see what links you have but only works well with Firefox. You will also need to download an extension to view the full report. The extension is non intrusive so you should be fine installing it to your Firefox browser.
Screenshot of Open Site Explorer Checker
Screenshot of Linkdiagnosis.com Link Checker
Top pick Backlink Monitoring Tools
If you are serious about protecting your rankings, it is highly advised to invest in a tool that offers a little more than a dump of data. After all, our time is also important. Here are two tools that are well worth a try.
Lotrax is one of the best tools to monitor specific sets of links. Whether it's advertising or links you want to make sure stay in place, this is a great tool to do just that.
Its capabilities allow you to add specific links or banners to monitor, set the checks you want to run and define what you want to happen when an issue is found. As part of this workflow, you can preset email templates against the checks being undertaken and have them issued to your partners automatically when an issue is detected. There's a utility for your partners to reply back to you. You can define how many emails you want to be issued and how long to wait for a reply. There is also a utility to upload your existing links into the system.
There is a 30 day trial for 50p ($1). The trial unusually offers full functionality - the only limitation is the number of links that can be monitored. Prices range from $1 up to $129.
Majestic is also a popular tool for keeping an eye on your backlinks and overall profile. Whilst it doesn't have automated alerts, it does show you links lost in the last 6 months. The tool also allows you to delve into the detail of you links, scoring each link by a number of different metrics. The downside is that it only reports on links lost - not on changes. There is a free version however much of the useful data is withheld until you upgrade. Prices start at $29.9 up to $1,000 per month!
Part of the SEO Power suite is Link Assistant. This is a great wee tool. You can store and categorise your links, check them to see they stay in place. There's also a facility to check that the SEO quality of the linking page stays in line, as well as checking for NOFOLLOW tags etc. This tool covers the full link profile and tracks links built over time.The professional edition is just a smidgen over $150 with the enterprise version $370. A little more costly but a useful piece of kit for the serious link builder.
Another good article on this can be found here: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2271355/Backlink-Monitoring-Keeping-Track-of-Your-Existing-Links
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